Speaking In Tongues
Scribbling In Voices

Anna Zhdanova


«I never saw an oft removed Tree,
Nor yet an oft removed Family,
That throve so well as those that settled be.»

«So, would you like comfort,
Do you know where it is, your comfort?»

How can you know that all those things may happen in the dreary dreams of them who are rarely seen or noticed or thought of on the land of snow deserts surrounded by seemingly unpenetratable woods and covered by the ocean of heavens?.. The Suburb of good town N-sk. Is also a place for happenings and for people.
But might be seen to be against people: Rambler thought it to be like this. The major thing about him is that he thought of himself as of an efficient artist, he meant he had successfully finished the Academy of Art in the forementioned town of N-sk. Had some job. Something pleased him, something did not and there had been nothing unusual about him. «A little bit spoiled by the flat question», just as most Russian people are, although he needed not to have a roomy appartment for his boozy rows, just as most... He didn't like that.
Rambler's Neighbour couldn't take this attitude in, that's why every Friday evening he used to appear at the solemn Rambler's corner. Neighbour violently needed company. Probably Rambler would have never let him in, for the neighbourhood in misfortune of living in these shattering blocks had never served as a reason for communication, but they knew each other from the Academy. The difference between them was that Rambler painted pictures and Neighbour painted wallpaper. Once after they had drunk quite a doze of vodka Rambler found his companion staring with his face tear-stained at the last masterpiece of his, Ramblers', work. «It may be anything, but anyway, when you are not paid...»", started Rambler. «But no one gets paid in this town, the doctors are not paid, the teacher don't get their salary for 6 monthes, I am not paid, but they work, because they are obliged to work without waiting until that communist's system will give them money to live for themselves... Yes, we, nearly in 2000, live in the promised Communism. We don't have money. I work without waiting for them, I forgot them. If you say "one hundred roubles" to me, no association will catch me, roubles are something that have nothing to do with anything... Dollars neither... You just have to work...» -- «To serve the people who can't serve themselves!» -- wheezed Rambler. Neighbours' outburst finished, he turned to his normal irresistably joyful mood. «Bye, colleague!» he said leaving the room.

* * *

Menacingly frail Guest's figure was an opportunity for Sun to play casting shadows on the wooden floor. The head with golden locks peeked outside watching kids playing their toys: cars and dolls. Recalling her toys of childhood, which had been thrown into the attics of memory a long time ago, firstly she recalled meccano: plastic bricks turned to robots, queer cars and houses. She used to spend hours making them. Then she grew older and asked Mom to buy her a one made from metal with nearly real screwdriver for almost real screws, so when her father fixed something about the house and asked her if he might have had a detail, she always shared it with him. Guest's father had become a dear member for the family, after the girl's parents divorced, especially. And now, Guest is staring, wondering what little girls find in dolls they can occupy themselves during hours with them. That time Guest saw dolls being stupid, straightforward, seeing them actually for the first time, because these toys vanished unheeded before, just as an empty place.
After all, a clumsy, darkhaired woman entered the yard to gather her numerous kids to have a supper, so Guest turned away from the window, clenched her teeth and proceeded cooking her supper. She expected Rambler to come in a minute.
«...and don't stare at me», Guest shouted. «The one who stares is you!» Rambler answered and this was the truth. Perhaps he would have loved Guest if her eyes were not so open to everything, prepared trustfully to sacrify everything to him, though searching and praying with ordering tunes for something impossible. He didn't know what to do with her eyes. «Anyway, it is not love when two persons look at each other, but it is when they look in the same direction», Guest summed up and adjusting her glove peered at the garbage heap in the yard near the house. «Why don't you ever take off your gloves? To look ladylike? It does not work then,» Rambler expected to drive her mad by the question, but Guest simply left the room with the words: «Why am I still in your house...» «As if I hold you,» Rambler thought, «As if I invited you.» An this had been the truth, she just came in one February evening and started living in his flat without any senseless negotiations.
«...if you want to know where the airport's ticket office, don't call the house "Academicheskaja street, 11" or something of that sort. And how can you find it? Pretty easy. Listen, first you go through the square I used to roam being a child, then cross the street, where a terrible accident happened last spring, then you head to the high building I wanted to jump off some 15 years ago. I changed my mind though, because my mother bought two boxes of marshmallow... So, the one on the right is the ticket office. But may be you don't go?»
«I have to go, I simply have to go. See, let's go together. It is a great opportunity, in a great country -- France, Guest, understand, it is our chance. Yours and mine. Well, my work will be boring, but it will work. Without watching these dead places of nuclear spring. April now. Average temperature: -10, earth poisoned: 100%. World's garbage busket all the year round. Lets' creep out!»
Actually, Rambler went away and Guest stayed. The first one got associated with a group of Russian painters in France and they kept working in a group. Painted and sold. Practice makes perfect, so one picture had been implemented by several artists. Each one drew the same fragment everywhere. Rambler drew hands. Hundreds of hands and money started to float in and names of countries changed and more hands and currency changed. And suddenly Rambler started to see dreams. Weird ones, he started to see his primary school, the teasingly sunlit corridors, but no people. His empty cobwebbed house in N-sk and dank, icy steets of some quaint April morning. Years had passed, and no other land, but this one might fill him with feelings.

* * *

«Hi, colleague!» Neighbour looked the same way. Rambler's primary school collapsed and he saw that its windows were nailed with wooden crosses. Everything forgot him. To be born in the SuperPower, feeling everything that made you ruined, collapsed into emptiness, into jeers of the generation born in this new still existing country, crushed irreversibly with your childhood and primary school you hated so much. You are from nowhere. Modern kids do not want to become spacemen anymore.
Rambler could not find Guest and later had been told that she, after having a baby, one morning killed the first random man she met on the street. She would have been never found if not overseen, and still holding a gun in the gloved hand, crying she would have never done it, being able to suffer the hands. «Poor girl» Neighbour shook his head. «I have visited her in the prison and now her eczema got worse, gloves are not enough to cover it...» «She merely could not bear anyone. And been in bed with everyone. And now we know her hair aren't of gold at all, but of usual drastic ashy colour, and her kid is...» «Shut up, you, woman,» Neighbour roared at his wife, «or I will... or you will claim Guest had been as fat as you are?!» Wife retreated.
«And another thing,» Neighbour said to defeated Rambler. «Try to find the child and take care of him. If in the West they don't give you money you are not obliged to work, but here the things are different. If you want to believe it is your son, you'll have to take care, otherwise you'll die without faith. Otherwise you'll have to suffer hands, hundreds, flawless ones, drawn by you, hundreds, greedy ones on your girl and hundreds hungry child's ones. And don't blame her too much, colleague. It is more difficult to have one, then hundreds, your own, than everything. Your have to believe it is your own junk heap and not someone else's.»
«So, here we are, colleague, drinking vodka straight from the bottle, and do you see that young tree on the burned land, among the brocken wooden barracks and high concrete blocks? Who planted it here? Must had been taken here by the wind as a seed. That long ago. Growing for itself. Earth starts breathing, some years will lapse and we will taste pineapples, believe me, colleague.»